West Ham United 1-0 Swansea City: Cheikhou Kouyate wonder strike eases Hammers' relegation fears
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 08/04/17 11:20pm
Cheikhou Kouyate's first-half strike sealed a nail-biting 1-0 win for West Ham United over Swansea City at the London Stadium to ease the Hammers' relegation fears.
The Senegal international scored a brilliant long-range effort just before half-time to bring to an end a dreadful recent run of five straight Premier League defeats.
As a result, the Hammers have moved up to 14th in the table, eight points from the drop zone, while Swansea - who were toothless in attack all afternoon - remain two points from safety after a fifth away defeat in a row.
West Ham had Michail Antonio available after the forward was forced off against Arsenal due to illness.
However, Andy Carroll was only fit enough for a place on the bench after also having to be substituted early in their midweek loss at the Emirates, with Robert Snodgrass replacing the striker in the Hammers' only change.
The home side, though, were still without the likes of first-team regulars Aaron Cresswell, Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna and Pedro Obiang due to injury.
Meanwhile, Swansea had top scorer Fernando Llorente back on the substitutes' bench after recovering from a recent ankle problem, and right-back Kyle Naughton was passed fit to play after injuring his hamstring in Wednesday's 3-1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur.
And the visitors - who were unchanged from midweek - were also boosted by the news that No 1 Lukasz Fabianski, who took a heavy knock in that defeat, could start in goal.
Not surprisingly, with so much at stake in the game, both sides made a cagey start to proceedings in the sunshine with neither 'keeper tested in the opening quarter of an hour.
Gradually, though, the Hammers grew in confidence and came close to opening the scoring after 20 minutes.
However, after Antonio had done well to work some space in the box and swing a cross to the far post, Fabianski was alert on his goal-line to keep out Snodgrass' close-range header.
The Poland international then had to be equally agile to keep out Andre Ayew's well-struck shot on the half-hour mark as West Ham started to increase the pressure on their opponents.
And that pressure did finally tell in the last minute of the half as West Ham broke the deadlock thanks to Kouyate's first Premier League goal of the season, and what a strike it was too.
The midfielder played a neat one-two with Snodgrass, before collecting his return pass, striding forward and thumping an unstoppable 25-yard effort past a helpless Fabianski.
Swansea manager Paul Clement reacted to that setback by bringing on both Luciano Narsingh and Llorente at the break to beef up the visitors' attacking options, but to little effect.
If there was any team, though, who looked like scoring in the second half, then it was West Ham, who shook off the loss of key forward Antonio to a hamstring injury five minutes before the break to test Fabianski on several occasions.
However, the Swans' keeper was at his agile best to twice deny Ayew late on as West Ham recorded just a second home win in the league in their last seven games.
West Ham: Randolph (6), Byram (6), Fonte (8), Collins (7), Masuaku (6), Kouyate (7), Noble (7), Antonio (7), Lanzini (9), Snodgrass (6), Ayew (7)
Subs used: Feghouli (7), Calleri (7), Fernandes (6)
Swansea: Fabianski (8), Naughton (6), Mawson (6), Fernandez (7), Olsson (6), Fer (7), Cork (6), Carroll (6), Sigurdsson (7), Ayew (6), Routledge (7)
Subs used: Montero (7), Narsingh (7), Llorente (6)
Man of the Match: Manuel Lanzini